Firefighters’ pay dispute and Strike 2002
In April 2002 The Firebrigades’ Union agreed to press for Firefighters’ salaries to be increased from £21,531 to £30,000. This agreement was ratified at the May conference where the Firefighters agreed that should the 40% demand not be met they would agree to Strike action.
Employers counter-offered 4% with Prime Minister Tony Blair saying that 40% would have a “terrible effect” on the economy.
In October of 2002 Members voted 9-1 in favour of strike action and a series of 48 hour strikes were called, although these were put on hold for further talks.
Following another breakdown of talks, the first 48 hour strike took place on November 13th.
During the first strike, it emerged that three people died in separate house fires. The Firefighters’ Union agreed to extend strike action to eight days after talks again broke down.
More than 40,000 British troops were secretly ordered to undergo firefighting training ready to step in with their Green Goddess machines. Troops were then deployed and during the eight days, covered over 12,000 incidents using a total of 827 Green Goddess machines.
The call for strike action finally ended in August 2003 with Firefighters accepting a 16% pay increase over 3 years. There were sweeping changes of duty systems and shift patterns as well as changes in career development and Service management.
Was it worth it? At the end of the dispute Service morale was at an all time low, but one thing is certain; the Service now is drastically different. Fire deaths are lower and prevention is a way of life all firefighters.